Using Blender for Cover Design

One of the fun parts of writing Juggling JSON with jq, is that I can experiment with various things. From the technical writing side, working with Sphinx has forced me to learn the ins-and-outs of that technology. Also very likely I will need to get into working with LaTeX for more of the advanced PDF parts.

The book cover provided me with an excuse to work on my graphic design skills. I decided that I wanted to do something more than just use a stock photo or old-timey engraving (a.k.a. O’Reilly’s book covers). Instead I decided to use Blender to create a compelling cover image. Yes, it may sound like overkill, however using Blender harkens to past times. Before I settled on studying computer science at the University of Toronto, and working as a programmer, I considered becoming a 3D graphics artist. I played with 3D Studio Max in high school, and learned about drafting and animation. When faced with the reality of being proficient but not amazing at drawing, and the very real possibility of competing with many more talented and experienced artists in the market I decided against that career path. However this decision did not dissuade me from taking drawing in university or enthusiastically learning Maya to make an animation for a visual computing course.

So I took the excellent Youtube video tutorial by Blender Guru. After a few hours of watching the tutorial I came up with a final image like so:

Blender Doughnut scene

] Doughnut and cup scene created in Blender. Created on August 14, 2017

And boy did I learn a lot from the tutorial: navigating Blender’s confusing UI, modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering a final image.

As for the book cover I am working on a cell-shaded, low-poly scene involving penguins and juggling. The process has been pretty fun so far, even though quite time consuming. However I have finished my low-poly model of a penguin, and added rigging (internal skeleton with joints for movement):

Low-poly model of a penguin

] Low-poly model of a penguin for the Juggling JSON with jq book. Created on August 23, 2017

Rendered pose of a juggling penguin

] Rendered pose of the juggling penguin for the Juggling JSON with jq book. Created on August 23, 2017.

Building a Portfolio

Yesterday I started revamping my blog, and building my portfolio. Now I don’t really need a portfolio, since I chose a career of software engineering over graphic design and writing. However just because my current occupation doesn’t need my more artistic talents, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any. And it surely should not imply that I do not like to create art or to display it. So I’m putting up a few pages dedicated to a portfolio of my various works and ideas in: drawing, computer graphics, writing, user interface design and organization. How extensive this portfolio will be, depends on how much time and effort I can dedicate to this. It will definitely take sometime, so I don’t expect to finish overnight. Still, I should of done something like this years ago. More often than not, in a professional setting, people show interest in my talents outside of programming. So putting up a portfolio also makes sense too for career advancement. Right now I’m not too worried about that aspect. Rather I just feel like showcasing what I have done so far, and what I plan to do shortly.

Echo: Quantity Not Quality

I’ll attempt at stealing Marika’s traffic again.  And because my response is long enough to become a blog post:

Yes, Marika that is true.  Writing is an art.

Unfortunately, in a difficult economy you need to be a generalist.  I can write well too.  I can code really well.  But instead of concentrating on coding, I get to do a weird mix of planning, sending off communications, coding, writing documentation, system administration, et cetera.  It is not fun.  And while I am capable of doing all these tasks… I’d rather concentrate on what I really excel at.  But…

There are programmers that can outcode, outthink and outclass me in experience. The older experienced ones especially.  So I can’t compete on their level.  Also I rather have “a” job than “no” job.  And for most tasks in business, “good enough” bets “genuis”.  For coding a website you don’t need a Linus Torvald.  Nor do you need an Ernest Hemmingway for writing dry business articles about mergers and acquistions.  You don’t need a van Gogh, Monet or Da Vinci to paint walls.

Why is this?  Because “genius” is very, very expensive.  “Good enough” means a business can keep afloat, which is what business usually do.  And those profit margins for those fat cat capitalists?  They are razor thin in most cases.

Reality is if you are truly great, you get that awesome great dream fulfilling job.  Everyone else is on the scale of mediocre in terms of jobs.  The best way for that dream job is to be so great in a particular valuable niche, that it is either you or nobody else (for that price of course).  That is how the market goes.  So why quantity over quality?  I dunno.  Maybe because markets tend toward producing commodities for the unwashed masses.  The idea is to come up with a way to use resources to produce goods and services at nominal cost approaching zero.  That is a good thing for everyone.